Published February 16, 2011
If you've ever watched this program, I’m sure you know where i stand on labor unions. I think they're sucking this country - specifically state governments - dry.
And I’m not alone. The latest Wall Street Journal points out that the people who agree with me aren't just Republicans anymore! The speaker of the Illinois house, Democrat Michael Madigan, has had this powerful position for nearly three decades and has long been a supporter and beneficiary of public sector unions.
But as times and budgets change - so have his opinions.
Madigan is actually proposing the idea of cutting pensions and benefits for current state workers, and he has good reason - Illinois has funded less than half of its retirees’ pensions. That's the lowest amount of any state.
According to the Illinois governor's office, it's just going to get worse for the land of Lincoln. Projected pension payments are expected to top $35 billion next year and keep growing. Illinois governor Pat Quinn, of course a Democrat, is proposing changing state law to at least make retired workers pay more for their benefits—a move I’m sure the unions will love.
Illinois has one of the biggest pension problems, but nearly every state and many cities are in the red, in large part to pensions and public-sector unions.
So other democrats are following Madigan, Emanuael, and Quinn's leads. You can't talk about struggling states without mentioning California. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown is considering forcing unions into some concessions. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing the same, and even going toe-to-toe with teacher unions.
And in Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker barely introduced his budget for the upcoming fiscal year before unions of all shapes and sizes took to the streets protesting. Walker is proposing a bill that would strip most public workers of almost all their collective bargaining rights.
While the unions protest, the public may actually be on the side of the elected officials. A Gallup poll from last year shows only about half of Americans support unions – a 70-year low.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.
While most Americans are being forced to cut back in every aspect of their lives, those in the unions seem to still ride high with pensions many of us in the private sector can only ever dream of.